The lines between various types of eCommerce, to name a few, mobile commerce, digital commerce, social commerce, and others are rapidly blurring. Modern customers couldn’t care less about which channel they are using at a particular time and expect companies to provide them a seamless, uniform experience across channels and touch points. It’s finally time to drop the ‘e’ or ‘d’ or for that matter, ‘s’ and ‘m’ from commerce – the distinction no longer exists and that’s good news for everyone.
The new commerce reality requires companies to rethink their business model including product/ services, marketing, and operational strategies. Here are four best practices to thrive in this new world of plain and simple commerce:
#1 Embrace the ‘one brand, many channels’ strategy: Your brand should have a unified voice, presence, and identity across channels – be it digital or physical. Online shopping through web or mobile or shopping in brick-and-mortar retail stores are no longer stand-alone concepts. They are inter-related and together account for the overall customer experience. The physical retail apocalypse is largely overhyped – brick-and-mortar stores are here to stay and for good reason. Digest this – the 2017 Black Friday, Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday holiday season saw a whopping 174 million Americans flock to physical retail stores to shop.
#2 Increase your footprint across touch points: Recent research reveals that 69% of customers prefer to shop online, while 72% like to try new retail stores and 74% enjoy shopping in physical stores when they have the time. Clearly, customers prefer to buy according to their convenience and brands must meet them where, when, and how they want.
#3 Merge online and offline: You never know where a customer begins his/her journey and where he/she would convert. Webrooming (research online, buy in-store), Showrooming (explore in-store, buy from the retailer’s website), Click & Collect (buy online, pick up at a physical store location), Scan & Scram (explore in-store and buy on a different retailer’s website), and Click & Ship (see in-store, buy through phone delivery) are emerging trends revolutionizing today’s commerce landscape. Brands must blend these omni-shopping experiences to enable a consistent customer experience.
#4 Leverage intelligence to deliver smartly: Perfect order deliveries are the new yardstick to measure customer satisfaction. AI-based omni-channel forecasting can help predict inventory requirements across channels and enable up to 20% reduction in surplus stock and a 40% boost in forecast accuracy. Similarly, ship-from-store capabilities can generate up to 30% savings. Companies should also look at elastic logistics – collaborative partnerships with local and third-party logistics providers within their omni-channel commerce platform.
The time for harmonized commerce has come – it’s no more about winning the online or offline battle. The customer is one and so the brands must become, to successfully navigate the new reality of modern day commerce.